Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Don’t Black Lives Taken by Homeboys Matter?

I am in deep pain when I look at the accounts of the death of George Floyd. There are many others recently, but George Floyd’s death is especially painful, and vengeful. I thought I was out of tears and then, wicked cops killed Elijah McClain, a nerdy guy who played his violin at the animal shelter for forlorn feral cats. Like Floyd, he begged for his life. He told them cops; he didn’t even fight other young’uns.

But they choked him, then when he was unresponsive, paramedics pumped him with drugs. He was a skinny, little, nerdy kid, not a big buck like Floyd. But it didn’t matter. Were either of them Baptist, or Catholic, or Muslim, Brother Malcolm X might inquire. It doesn’t matter. What matters is they were Black and some Ku Kluxers with a badge thought them to be “suspicious” and took the law into their own hands.

I know how they think. “I’ll teach him a lesson, because some liberal judge will let him off with a plea deal.” “He may not be guilty of this crime, but he’s guilty of something, so I’ll teach him not to walk the streets in the 77th Precinct.”

Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, the list seems endless, and we are rightly outraged. Now, at last, the whole world shares our outrage. It’s good that so many are now outraged. The Watts Uprising in 1965 was over this very same kind of police abuse, and that was 55 years ago.

It hurts me to say this, but far more Black people are killed every week at the hands of out-of-control young hoodlums who answer to no one, and only change their thuggish ways after a long prison bid for one offense or another, or after they grow too old to compete with the young’uns in “The Game.”

The sad part is that no one except the affected family members mourns for the victims of homeboy violence. When a cop (especially a White cop) or a White civilian kills one of us, we scream, “Black Lives Matter.” We march. We protest. When Cousin Juney Boy is the perpetrator, we are mum.

I insist, those Black lives matter too.

Over one recent June weekend in Chicago, 14 Black folks were murdered, 102 were wounded at the hands of our own people. There were no murals, no marches, no celebrities rushing forward with money to pay for those funerals and to get a headline. We don’t even know their names. Fourteen dead, 102 injured in one bloody weekend. Sometimes our little babies are killed by stray bullets, and we remain silent.

So, when I posted a complaint on social media about our myopia when White folks are not to blame, I was called “stupid,” “offensive,” “propagandist,” told I had lost my damn mind. Well, I may be crazy, out of my mind, but I’m not stupid.

The saddest part is that those perpetrators went back to their homes and faced no consequences. Sadly, some of us even know our out-of-control children commit these terrible crimes but are maybe afraid to confront them. It’s understandable, who would want to send our child into the hands of the U.S. criminal injustice system? But wrong is still wrong.

On that weekend in Chicago, two boys were killed and another wounded because they asked some dude in a convenience store how tall he is! Just days later in New York, a high school basketball star was gunned down days after his graduation, but not by a cop or a White vigilante, though, so our voices were silent.

But don’t try to make me out as some kind of Tea Party-collaborating, Uncle Clarence Tom-ass because I’m sick of seeing it, and have the nerve to say something about it. No way! Go down to your basement, there’s an 800-pound gorilla there playing video games, and otherwise up to no good. Show him some tough love. Get him to mend his/her ways. Get him/her to go to school. Take him/her to the community college to enroll. Require him/her to do something productive with his/her life. Be an example.

I’m not wrong for calling us to discipline ourselves. Like when cops do it to us, and when White folks do it to us, us, killing and injuring us is wrong, and we’re the only ones who can correct the wrong!

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello.:

    I think for the most part, we’re having a discussion of awareness right now. American law-makers have long been in denial about the police brutality that Black Americans face. Their laws are crafted with the sentiment that Black people /are/ all of the things your post says we are. There is no denying that throughout the history of the US, this has been the prevaling narrative, and that prevailing narrative has lead law enforcement officers to assume that black people are murderers and gangsters, at the cost of an uncountable amount of lives. Which is why bringing up this issue in the current context of police brutality is just a return to the old mentality that black people “deserve” it. I understand that’s not your point, but consider your audience. Who will be vindicated by reading this post? People who need to justify police officer’s fears of black men even when they present no immediate threat. Therefore your sentiment is actually advocating for a return to the status quo, where people are justifiable afraid of black men because of the crimes (created by systemic racism) that some may commit. While we are aware of the crimes in our own communities, we are asking for all Americans, to dig a little deeper and address those crimes at their root, which is systemtic racism. How many children and young men could have been saved from gang life if marijuana sales were a legitimate business they could enter? How many gangs have been started on the premise that Black Americans need to you unite to protect themselves from the police? How many lives would have been saved if the crack epidemic, affecting black people disproportionately, were treated the same way cocaine addiction was, with much lighter sentencing and trips to rehab? When we say Black Lives Matter, these are the issues we are talking about. It is police brutality, but it’s also many other systemic issues in the US that treat Black Americans as second class citizens, causing poverty, which of course leads to “crime” as defined by a government with extreme bias.

  2. You are not wrong and you are right to call it out. What has not entered into the conversation is WHY. The reason why Black Lives don’t matter to these young kids is because they do not matter in the general public. Their own lives don’t matter to anyone, not even to themselves. They fear no consequence because they do not matter to anyone. Surely there are exceptions to every rule, in why some of these kids join gangs and engage in criminal behavior. They were brought up in the same society as we were and WE are taught and convinced that we do not matter and we see the examples in the murders of so many of our brothers and sisters. They are doing the bidding of those who convinced them that we do not matter. The cause has to be looked at so that symptoms are just bandaged and left to fester underneath like it has all these years. This is why we must advocate to restore the community programs that gave them skills, positive pasttime occupations and a sense of belonging and guidance, like the programs that barely or no longer exist because no funding is allocated for them, yet billions of dollars can be found to stalk, arrest, prosecute and incarcerate these same kids into the new slave system. None of this is by accident. Teach them to hate themselves and they will do “our” bidding. Done. I say call it out, but let’s see why it exists and do something about it.

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